It is well established that larger social networks predict lower overall mortality in healthy populations and in breast cancer patients, but associations with breast cancer-specific outcomes like recurrence and breast cancer mortality have been mixed.
Now, a new research has revealed that more socially isolated breast cancer survivors are at increased risk of a relapse - thereby increasing their risk of dying - while women with larger social networks experience better outcomes.
‘Compared with socially integrated women, socially isolated women with breast cancer have a 40% higher risk of recurrence, a 60% higher risk of dying from breast cancer, and a 70% higher risk of dying from any cause.’
Candyce Kroenke from Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California, said, "These findings, from a large pooled cohort of nearly 10,000 women with breast cancer, confirm the generally beneficial influence of women's social ties on breast cancer recurrence and mortality; however, they also point to complexity, that not all social ties are beneficial, and not in all women."
The researchers examined information on 9,267 women with breast cancer to see how patients' social networks within approximately two years following their diagnosis might affect their survival.
Over a median follow-up of 10.6 years, there were 1448 cancer recurrences and 1521 deaths (990 from breast cancer).
Compared with socially integrated women, socially isolated women had a 40% higher risk of recurrence, a 60% higher risk of dying from breast cancer, and a 70% higher risk of dying from any cause.
The study was published online in the journal CANCER